Imagine this. You’re a fly on the wall of a Northern California hotel that caters to vacationers. How many times do you think you’d hear something like
"It’s summer in CALIFORNIA! Of COURSE I’m wearing shorts and a T-Shirt!"
A couple goose-bump filled hours later, that tourist is the proud owner of an over-priced sweatshirt emblazoned with "Santa Barbara!" or "Monterey!" or "San Francisco!" or even "Mendocino!" (Which begs the question, will global warming ruin the sweatshirt industry? Discuss)
Of course, readers of this blog know what this tourist didn’t – Norther California coastlines are cooled by ocean currents from Alaska that travel down to Point Conception in Santa Barbara before circling out to the center of Pacific to be warmed up. From there they start the cycle all over again. It’s what keeps the West Coast cool. Figuratively as well as literally, in my opinion.
And it’s what makes these regions perfect for cool-climate wine grapes such as Pinot Noir. From Mendocino’s Anderson Valley down to Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills, warm days are tempered by cool nights, all thanks to these ocean currents.
So, what happens to the wine industry if the Pacific warms up?
Of the various researchers looking into this issue, wine lovers will be interested in the work UC Davis is conducting on warm-weather grapes. This 15 minute segment from KQED’s program "QUEST" provides a good introduction. Let me know what you think:
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~ Will Rogers